For every disappointing book I read, I try to tell myself that there are probably dozens of great ones out there. That was more than adequately proved by the three great reads I managed over the last week.
The Magnificent Superdog
Himanjali Sankar’s The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog stars Rousseau, a rather silly golden retriever who has an unlikely superpower—he can tell the time. So when the Orange Marmaladies, the Original Timekeepers of the Universe, inadvertently cause time to disappear from earth, Rousseau is the only one who knows when it’s time to eat and when it’s time to sleep. Needless to say, he’s somewhat in demand. The book has some highly entertaining illustrations by Pooja Pottenkulam, especially of the invisible Marmaladies!
In book 2, Missing: A Magnificent Superdog, the Marmaladies kidnap Rousseau to study his time-telling abilities. Even as the Ghosh family frantically search for the beloved pet, two of the Marmaladies slip into earth to catch a glimpse of their favourite Bollywood star, Shah Rukh Khan. However, things go kind of wrong, and they end up captured and branded terrorists. The second book is illustrated by Priya Kuriyan and is just as funny.
The Superdog books are clever and funny. A great example of how books for young kids can be intelligent without talking down or being simplistic. I enjoyed book 1 more than book 2, but will happily sample a third installment of Rousseau. (Full disclosure: Himanjali is one of my editors. I worked with her on There’s a Ghost in My PC, and if all goes well, she may be publishing one of my forthcoming books.)
Coraline the explorer
Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is the story of a little girl who loves to explore. Having moved into a new house, she spots a strange door in the drawing room that leads her into a whole other world, with an other mother and an other father. They have buttons for eyes and they want Coraline to stay with them forever. Coraline must use her wits and the help of the black cat that talks to her to find her way out and rescue her real parents.
Coraline is a brave and believable and likeable character, and it’s easy to root for her. I love Gaiman’s young protagonists and the fact that he does not stereotype them. This makes them solid and real rather than shallow facsimiles based on popular notions of what boys and girls should be like.
If you’re looking for something to read, I highly recommend all three books.